Montréal-based studio Wedge on surpassing trends in today's world of abundance
Wedge is an independent Montréal-based creative studio that believes strong work speaks to both the head and the heart. Since their foundation in 2016, they have worked on progressive identity, packaging and advertising projects for clients in the alcohol, furniture and education sectors, to name just a few.
EM Hey! How’s life at the Wedge studio at the moment?
W Life is positive! Always focused. Opportunity-filled. Unpredictable. It’s a mix of these variables that make it an exciting place to be.
EM Can you tell us more about your team?
W We are a team that works together. Everything is done in a state of collaboration. We’re open, we share, we listen, we push, we know an answer can come from anyone.
Our team is equal parts analytical and aesthetically inclined. We are strategically-minded designers, creative directors, art directors, writers, and beyond the titles, we are people who are united by pushing what’s possible. And we’re obsessed with brand.
Our leadership is composed of experienced talents who exited creative-corporate, big agency worlds across Montreal, Toronto, and London, to work differently now. Get closer to the challenges we are solving, and the people we are solving them for/with, with the tool we know best: design. Because of our backgrounds, we’re able to craft work you’d expect from a large firm, but delivered through an intimate experience that brings the care and dedication of a small studio.
As we grow, keeping it intimate will be the challenge. We see ourselves as a speciality brand, not a mass label. We don’t just produce work, we create things of value. No one needs another beer, chair, or parka, but – you want it or believe in the mission, what it stands for. We’re excited to create that desire for products and companies that are progressive, and better for the planet too.
We see ourselves as a speciality brand, not a mass label.
EM When an email or call comes in about a new project, do you have a process you follow to decipher if the potential client is right for you?
W We meet. Whether in person, by video, on the phone, we connect. Good partnerships are the ones built over trust. That’s something you gradually build over a relationship. At the start, depending on the context, we ask questions to best understand the full picture of the request, the challenge to solve, the ambition, the team around it, and the resources to support it. It’s all about arriving at the right match. And when it’s an undeniable one, we’re all in. We really care.
EM How can we adapt, as an industry that has historically thrived with the growth of consumerism, to make more thoughtful and sustainable work, without suffering from a business perspective?
W Design and brand will always be linked to consumerism, and as we look into the future, the new consumerism demands sustainability, inclusivity, and a higher level of thought. Our global consciousness is driving more sustainable practises from fashion to food to nearly everything, and also inviting a more diverse group of people in. There’s a new ‘green fee’ happening, for real. As designers, we will have the opportunity to partner with more people, brands, and companies who align with these values, and that’s exciting.
EM Can you highlight something you’ve learnt since starting the studio?
W Consistently, strong ideas require time. Learning when to say no makes space for the big YES. People are #1.
As we look into the future, the new consumerism demands sustainability, inclusivity, and a higher level of thought.
EM How would you describe the work you do?
W Brand and design in pursuit of distinct character. Character is everything. It’s what people remember you by. And in today’s world of abundance where everyone has access to everything at all times, we must surpass trends. Why be one of many? We say: Be the one.
We mix the old with the new. Our references come from fashion, music, architecture, everyday life. This is the Wedge Way. Which starts with what we call, ‘Cultural Foraging’. It’s in the combination of seemingly disconnected inspirations that something special emerges.
And so, our work isn’t defined by an aesthetic. We develop original works in response to business challenges and culture, to create inseparable bonds between companies and the people they live/make/create for. We land on a ‘signature’.
Our ‘types’ of work usually fall across 3 main categories: 1) We define brand identities. 2) We revitalise existing brands to elevate their identity, clarify their story, and land an ownable signature. 3) We say YES to special projects like packaging, visual campaigns, custom objects, a book, a city sculpture, etc.
EM What’s the key to creating a thriving and creative working environment for a small team?
W Communication and drive.
EM You’ve described your work for EQ3 as something that offers fresh eyes but doesn’t “reinvent the wheel”. What do you mean by that?
W The EQ3 work is a brand identity refresh. Often our job is to see a company with fresh eyes. Tap into the soul, give it a vision, and express its ethos to its fullest potential. We kept their primary typeface used throughout the brand, Avenir, but built a new, pragmatic design system around it with clear rules on how to use it. This was important because we knew implementing the new branding would take time. EQ3 stands for ‘Emotional Quotient in the Third Dimension’, so space was used as a design variable in layouts. If you look closely there is always a continuous flow of white space or breathing room. We also started from their base logo and modified the forms to make it more geometric and balanced. We revitalised the overall creative direction of photography and brought ‘Canada’ in, in a modern perspective which you can really feel (and hear) through the video series. There was so much potential with the brand, we just brought it to life.
EM Which of your projects do you feel most proud of?
W All the projects we’ve shared we’re proud of, for different reasons. Some like EQ3 are outstanding because they represent a milestone: an impactful campaign in New York City. Others like Menaud challenged what an independent distillery can do. Others like Drav show how people can embrace a can, and brand, so fiercely. The way people embrace the products we design whether a campaign, or a custom bottle, or a visual identity, is what makes us most proud.
EM What do you have in the works at the moment?
W We have a few new visual identity projects coming out this year as well as our next industrial design project this summer. A combination of heritage brands coming back to life in exciting ways, and new products with big thinking founders.
We are excited to announce that we’ve been chosen to develop the visual identity for Gender Creative Kids, a non-profit organisation that supports kids who identify beyond the gender binary.
We are also developing Wedge World – a platform for experiments and ideas at the intersection of design and business. It’s editorial, it’s products, it’s events – it’s taking shape! Stay tuned.